The last time we heard from Northwestern football, the Wildcats were ENDING THEIR 64 YEAR OLD BOWL WIN DROUGHT.
Yes, it’s a big enough deal that I must use ALL CAPS TO EXCLAMATE!
The Wildcats upped their record in bowl games to 2-9. And they did it against an SEC team, Mississippi St Bulldogs. And you know how well the Big Ten usually fares against the SEC in bowl games. In 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks ended their 49 year old Stanley Cup drought. In 2005, the Chicago White Sox ended their 88 year World Series drought. So now that leaves only two:
Northwestern basketball, who’ve never made a NCAA Tourney. And the Chicago Cubs 104 year Sahara like drought. Let’s get back to what the Cats accomplished last year and build on that moving forward in 2013.
They became just the third 10 win team in school history, and Pat Fitzgerald became the all-time winningest coach in school history with 50. I know, I know just 50 wins for your all-time #1 coach is very unimpressive. It speaks of little tradition. But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it speaks to all that Fitz has accomplished with Northwestern football.
Northwestern football reasons to get EXCITED! ALL CAPS! They could be the best rushing team in the league; and among the country. With Venric Mark and Kain Colter back, they’ll be really explosive. Provided all the new starters on the OL step up. All the skill position players are back and Northwestern football seems to be a program on the rise. The schedule sets up for another 9-3 season. The Wildcats have lots of athletes and solid players on defense.
Northwestern football reasons to be worried :( This 5:03 silliness needs to be pointed out first of all, and it should be extremely criticized. From the Chicago Tribune:
Northwestern players have “5:03″ stamped on the backs of their gray workout shirts this spring.
The math does not exactly work, given that Penn State took the lead with 2:37 to play and Nebraska with 2:08, while Michigan’s game-tying drive began with 18 seconds left. And feel free to point out that the Wildcats were 44 seconds from losing to Syracuse or that an undefeated Northwestern might have gotten splattered by Wisconsin in Indianapolis or by Alabama or Oregon in a bowl game.
I HATE HATE HATE when football coaches pull this nonsense. Former Indiana Hoosiers Coach Bill Lynch said something similar at Big Ten Media day a couple years ago. He said something like “we were 11 or 12 plays away from being 8-4″ or whatever it was. Well, by this logic, you can say the same thing about those dudes you knew in college who were “pre-med” or “pre-law” but flunked out. Or let’s take it a step farther, when I was in college I made out with a girl named Denise Richards. Of course, it was not the former Bond Girl or Charlie Sheen ex-wife. However, if you want to use fuzzy math and take liberties with the truth, let’s pretend the famous Denise Richards was actually young enough to have been in college at the same time as me, and I actually had enough game to attract someone who looks like that. Maybe I was 5:03 away from hooking up with someone who starred in “Wild Things” and had her own E! Channel.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to this two quarterback system nonsense. Kain Colter is the guy, pure and simple. Sure he really can’t throw as well as the coaching staff claims he can. He’s not as good a passer as others might claim. However, he is a playmaker. He gets things done. Trevor Siemian has his moments, but he’s not as good as Colter. It’s interesting that Northwestern football is dual-threat at the QB position via two players. Mike Kafka was a true dual threat. Dan Persa was a true dual-threat before the Achilles injury; then he became a single threat. NU is breaking in new starters all over the OL. It’s essentially Center Brandon Vitabile, and a bunch of guys!
The secondary is still a liability, they blew all those fourth quarter leads last year because their DBs are pretty bad- finishing last in the league, 84th in the nation in passing yards allowed. And that’s kind of hard to do when you consider the Big Ten was anything but a passing league last season.
Northwestern football key games: Should be 4-0 heading into the October 5th showdown versus Ohio State. Northwestern hasn’t done so well lately versus the Bucks though! November opens at Nebraska and home versus Michigan. It would be good if they could redeem themselves for choking away 4th quarter leads in both of those. They need to go 3-1 in October and at least 2-2 in November to make the season a success.
Northwestern football bottom line: They won’t sneak up on anyone this year, but then again when do they ever? Last year, wasn’t fluky, but then again they did lead the Big Ten in turnover margin, so maybe the ‘Cats did overachieve a bit. Northwestern football is at a level now where they can beat just about anybody…despite the horrible struggles versus Ohio State. No one has been taking them lightly; just ask Iowa! You should consider them a threat in the league.I’d say another 9-3 sounds just about right.
the 2013 College Football rankings 1-51
Big Ten team Season Previews:
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a correspondent for 95.7 The Fan, and reports on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)